Hoping for mining boom, Canada opens last frontier

Sep 25, 2011 by Jacques Lemieux
An farm is pictured sitting at the base of the Myrdalsjokull glacier in Iceland in April 2010. Quebec unveiled an $80-billion plan in May to open up its vast northern region -- one of the world's last unspoiled wilds, about twice the size of France -- to forestry and mining.

Dropping beneath low-lying clouds, a float plane circles a rocky landscape on the edge of the Arctic Circle grooved by the last ice age eight millennia ago and since then bathed by hundreds of rivers and lakes.

Tiny points of light emerge in the distance, pointing the way to Azimut Exploration's NCG or Nunavik Copper Gold prospecting camp in the far north of Canada's Quebec province.

Quebec unveiled an $80-billion plan in May to open up its vast northern region -- one of the world's last unspoiled wilds, about twice the size of France -- to forestry and mining.

There is currently only one mine in operation in Nunavik, the northern third of the province of Quebec: Xstrata's Raglan, which opened in 1997.

But China's state-owned Jilin Jien Nickel recently invested $800 million to mine nickel starting next year near the Inuit village of Kangiqsujuaq.

And the Quebec government promises up to 11 new mining projects will be launched in the next few years in the far north.

Tiny Azimut, with only six employees, has emerged as a leader in the Nunavik tundra by partnering with mining giants such as Aurizon Mines, IAMGOLD, Rio Tinto and Goldcorp to prospect for gold, copper, nickel, cobalt, platinum, zinc, iron ore, diamonds, lithium, vanadium and .

Tents at Azimut's NCG prospecting camp 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) north of Montreal were set up only three months ago, but are already starting to be taken down before the arrival of winter when temperatures will fall to minus 40 Celsius (minus 40 Fahrenheit).

Nearby a caribou grazes at a lake's edge, unfazed by visitors, while bold Arctic foxes scavenge the camp for carrots.

Veteran prospector Jean Fortin has just arrived at the camp and is canvassing a table covered with rock samples. "That's really interesting," he exclaims, picking up a rock sheered from a nearby ridge that could be hiding a major gold or copper find.

A disused mining machine on display near the town of Fort McMurray in Alberta in 2009. Quebec unveiled an $80-billion plan in May to open up its vast northern region -- one of the world's last unspoiled wilds, about twice the size of France -- to forestry and mining.

"Nunavik still remains substantially unexplored," says geologist and Azimut president Jean-Marc Lulin. "So there's an opportunity to make important discoveries here."

The new efforts come as the government is proposing to upgrade 10 north ports, 46 airstrips and extend railroads and roads by tens of thousands of kilometers (miles) to improve access to the region.

Azimut holds prospecting rights to 7,500 square kilometers (2,900 square miles) of land about 140 kilometers (86 miles) east of the Inuit village of Puvirnituq, and invited AFP to visit its prospecting operations in the area accessible only by plane.

The company's goal is straightforward: discover promising ore deposits and partner with other mining companies at an early stage to develop the targets.

Its two other nearby camps, Rex and Rex South, offer unexpected comforts: toilets, showers, washing machine, dishwasher, Internet and a satellite telephone.

"It's required," explains Lulin, "Otherwise, it's just too hard on the guys."

Alcohol is forbidden at the camps, but the food is delicious and the fish is very fresh.

The men spend much of their downtime plucking "monster" fish from nearby lakes, and later regaling friends and families with stories about trout or Arctic char "this big!" Lulin says, arms outstretched -- or about their encounters with wolves or black bears.

Or they just sit back and marvel at the spectacular display of the aurora borealis.

The geological work itself is arduous, and made more difficult by harsh weather and swarms of biting insects.

After one year of prospecting at Rex South, Azimut partner Aurizon Mines has agreed to invest five million dollars over the next five years to develop the target.

"It's going well," Aurizon geologist Olivier Grondin tells Lulin before boarding a helicopter to scout a potentially significant outcrop of gold, silver, copper and tungsten in a zone named the Augossan corridor.

"We're very excited because there's a potential to discover a vast amount (of minerals) near the surface," explains Lulin.

Only deposits on the surface can be extracted in this region at a profit, with prohibitive costs of building mine infrastructure to tap resources deep underground.

"Unless it's a major find, it's not worth it," Lulin says.

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omatumr
1.3 / 5 (16) Sep 25, 2011
Quebec unveiled an $80-billion plan to open up its vast northern region to forestry and mining.


One of many benefits that Big Brother ignored when it started manipulating government science in ~1971 to unite nations against an imaginary threat of global climate change. See:

1. Video summary as "Big Brother" took control of science (1961-2011)
http://dl.dropbox...reer.pdf

2. Professor Ian Pilmer's new book, "How to get expelled from school"

http://joannenova...ew-book/

One of few politicians who understands the serious danger facing our formerly free society today, Václav Klaus, President of the Czech Republic wrote the Foreword.

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
Former NASA Principal
Investigator for Apollo
http://myprofile....anuelo09
Voleure
4 / 5 (8) Sep 25, 2011
Again Oliver I fail to see any connection from your post and the article at hand. You might as well be spamming cheap watches for its relevance.

I hope this mining boom which happens to coincide with a majority Tory government by Stephen Harper, in the style of Bush/Cheney, is not a sign of short cutting Canadian environmental laws. The last Republican terms were fraught with stealth attacks on EPA regulations.
Caliban
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 25, 2011
Yes, our neighbors to the north appear to have quite a good grasp of the method whereby public resources are converted to private profit. I don't think that learned it entirely from the good old USA, but they certainly have had the benefit of many fine examples. By the time these enterprises come to their ends,

one of the world's last unspoiled wilds,


will be pitted, scored, burnt, stripped, poisoned and filthied, and will be added to an already less-than-sterling environmental record.

A real shame- sad, but true.

210
1.8 / 5 (5) Sep 25, 2011
Yes, our neighbors to the north appear to have quite a good grasp of the method whereby public resources are converted to private profit. I don't think that learned it entirely from the good old USA, but they certainly have had the benefit of many fine examples. By the time these enterprises come to their ends,
one of the world's last unspoiled wilds,

will be pitted, scored, burnt, stripped, poisoned and filthied, and will be added to an already less-than-sterling environmental record.

Indeed: I hope you are wrong, BUT, if one will just take a peak at the hideous tailings ponds over in Alberta! From the air, they look like huge weeping sores caused by some horrific disease that exists only to feed its gaping maw with the fertile promise of a verdant earth - turning it N 2 a caricature of rotting corpses & pestilence that will rival cancer-alley between Baton Rouge & New Orleans Louisiana! (Hummm, did I just inadvertently describe 'bad' big business!
word-
Nanobanano
1.8 / 5 (5) Sep 25, 2011
Yes, our neighbors to the north appear to have quite a good grasp of the method whereby public resources are converted to *corporate* profit.


Fixed.

The "Average Joe" employees involved in this will make as close to minimum wage as the HR departments can possibly get away with paying them...

Only top executives and stock holders will get "rich".

Not only does the land get raped, but the common people get raped as well.

Fuedalism still lives.

Heck, the canadians even sold out the prospecting rights to a chinese mining company...

...so...how does it feel to be Canadian? You just sold your natural resources to China so you can buy them right back at probably double cost....
Jeddy_Mctedder
1 / 5 (3) Sep 26, 2011
the sad thing about this massive growth in demand for gold , is that gold is only useful as money, because human beings have proven time and again that there central banks and national treasuries cannot be safeguarded from mismanaging the money (and credit) supply. it is arguable that much of the mismanagement is just accident, but time and again the vast lions share of mismanagement is for obvious corruption by the various beneficiaries and stake holders in the money/credit suppply policy. of course while the true culprits are the private banking cartels that make their living by servicing this supply,

ALL institutions and persons whose livelihoods are derived off money and credit transactions are at fault. the more money and credit they use for their maintenance ( as measured in the amount of money supply/credit they use ) .....are guilty .

and so explodes the demand for people to MINE this metal out of the ground so that they can store it in vaults , to create trust from thinair
Alex_
1 / 5 (1) Sep 26, 2011
consumerism is killing the planet. recycling should be the last frontier. all this for another batch of ""New"" products only to end uf in landfill or costly resource intensive recycling. ecological debt keeps growing
lengould100
1 / 5 (1) Sep 26, 2011
So how many of you moaning yank fake "ecologists" have given up your cellphones, cars and computer workstations to deny these mines a market? None? I thought so.
Neon
1 / 5 (2) Sep 26, 2011
the sad thing about this massive growth in demand for gold , is that gold is only useful as money


If that is what you believe then you need to do some research and learn about all the many, many things that gold is used for besides money: cancer treatment (gold-198), dentistry, passivation and corrosion protection, electronics, artwork, medicine, scientific equiptment, cds and dvds, inks and pigment, laboratory reagents, textiles, architecture, gilding books, et al.

Basically everything we own depends on mining, so don't bite the hand that feeds you.

Should we advocate for responsible stewardship of natural resources and safe practices? Yes! Should we feel bad about mining? No! Be thankful for it.

Civilization is built on mining: no mining, no civilization!
omatumr
1 / 5 (5) Sep 26, 2011
1. "We grow tyrannical fighting tyranny." - E. B. (Elwyn Brooks) White

2. "There is not so much difference between the ideologies of capitalism and communism, you know. The difference is simple. Capitalism is the exploitation of man by man, and communism is the reverse." John Gardner

3. "Any man who is not a communist at the age of twenty is a fool. Any man who is still a communist at the age of thirty is an even bigger fool." - George Bernard Shaw

Forty years of selecting the one plausible output from computer models that best fit their own selfish ends have trapped world leaders, like rats on a sinking ship, with false claims of control over Earth's climate.

Czech President Václav Klaus understood and tried to communicate the danger facing citizens of the formerly "Free West in the forward to Professor Ian Pilmer's insightful new book:

"How to get expelled from school"
www.connorcourt.c...lyer.pdf

Regretfully,
Oliver K. Manuel
http://myprofile....anuelo09
rubberman
2.6 / 5 (5) Sep 26, 2011
Of course China! No other country HAS 80 billion dollars. Like Len said, no demand = no market. I am a little curious as to who had to sign the consent forms for this sale as a proud canadian, but as my employer deals primarily in the mining industry, I will likely still have my job right up until Olivers violently unstable neutron star at the heart of the sun goes nova for 13th time in the earths 10 thousand year history (kevin RTS) and we all turn into Vendicar decaritards
ClintB
not rated yet Oct 03, 2011
Thanks Jacques Lemieux for the very good story developing in this area.
More peoples will be able to find work, a lots of works.

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